Friday, March 24, 2000

Mom gets life for killing newborn

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Carin Madden
        HAMILTON — A Butler County judge sentenced a tearful Carin Madden on Thursdayto life in prison for killing her newborn daughter by placing her in a plastic garbage bag and tying it shut.

        Her attorneys acknowledged the severity of her actions to Judge Keith Spaeth, But they said Ms. Madden was the victim of a string of unfortunate circumstances that led to the tragedy.

        Craig Hedric and Don Moser said the 20-year-old Wayne Township woman suffered from “neonaticide syndrome,” which enabled her to block out her pregnancy and kill the infant.

        Neonaticide is the killing of an infant within 24 hours after birth. There are about 250 neonaticide cases a year, Ms. Madden's attorneys said.

        “Women with this syndrome don't plan the death in advance,” Mr. Moser said. “They don't even recognize the newborn as a child.”

        Life imprisonment is too severe a penalty for this case, he said.

        Judge Spaeth said he recognized the unusual circumstances, but had no choice under Ohio law except to give Ms. Madden a life sentence.

        To avoid a possible death penalty, Ms. Madden pleaded guilty on Feb. 28 to aggravated murder and gross abuse of a corpse.

        Ms. Madden, who will be eligible for parole after 20 years, said nothing during the hearing. She frequently dabbed her eyes with tissue.

        Ms. Madden didn't tell anyone about her pregnancy last year. Her parents said they had no idea she was pregnant.

        Around Aug. 20, she gave birth in the basement of her parents' home, where she lived. She put the baby in a

        garbage bag, tied it shut and placed it in a trash can outside. A Rumpke garbage truck driver discovered the infant in the back of his truck on Aug. 28 and called police.

        When she was 15, Ms. Madden had given birth to a child in her parents' basement under similar circumstances. With Ms. Madden's consent, that child was adopted.

        Ms. Madden exhibited the same behavioral pattern in both cases that is typical for neonaticide syndrome cases, Mr. Moser said. “She concealed her pregnancy and gave birth in an isolated setting.” He and Mr. Hedric criticized Ohio law for failing to recognize neonaticide syndrome.

        Mr. Moser cited several neonaticide syndrome cases in other states in which women received far more lenient sentences than Ms. Madden. A woman in New York was given one to four years in prison, while a juvenile in Massachusetts received 61/2 months, he said.

        Mr. Hedric said he hopes Ohio courts eventually recognize neonaticide syndrome in the same way they accepted battered women's syndrome as a legal defense.

        Ms. Madden's sentencing was governed by the 2-year-old state law allowing the death penalty to be considered when someone purposely kills a child under 13.

        “That law is geared toward child abusers who kill their children,” Mr. Moser said. “It's not right for cases like this.”

        Judge Spaeth accepted a psychological report on Ms. Madden and neonaticide and said it will be sent to the state prison where she's incarcerated.

        Ms. Madden's attorneys said they submitted the report in the hope that it will help her receive counseling in prison and possibly receive a sentence reduction someday from the governor.

        Ms. Madden's father, Gary Madden, said she doesn't deserve such a severe sentence.

        “Carin's always been a very good kid,” he told Judge Spaeth before she was sentenced. Mr. Madden sobbed as he spoke, while his daughter bowed her head and cried.

        “She doesn't need to be in jail,” said her mother, Gail Madden. “She needs help.”

        Mr. Moser said that killing a human being runs completely counter to Ms. Madden's normal character.

        “She told me once that she can't believe it was her who did that,” he said. “She said, "I can't even kill a cricket.'”


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